Smoke-Free in New York: New Law Extends Smoking Ban to Parks and Beaches

Article excerpt

New Yorkers will soon have reason to breathe easier in parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas: In early February, a divided City Council passed a bill banning smoking in outdoor, public areas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's official signoff followed in quick succession, leaving smokers with less than 90 days to indulge themselves in places like Times Square and Central Park--not to mention some 1,700 other parks and 14 miles of public beaches.

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The ban positions New York City as a leader in establishing public smoke-free zones. Eight years ago the city was one of the first to ban tobacco use in bars and restaurants. Taken together, both bans theoretically demarcate the majority of indoor and outdoor public spaces as smoke-free zones. The aim, according to a statement Bloomberg issued shortly after the signing, was to promote public parks as "a haven where one could escape the overcrowded, noisy, and polluted streets."

The goals of the new law extend beyond tobacco use, however. The ban is ultimately just one facet of Bloomberg's ongoing campaign to improve the overall health of New Yorkers: The city also recently passed laws requiring the removal of trans-fats from restaurant food and mandating the advertisement of nutritional content on menus. …